Packers Training Camp Countdown: 11 Days

Green Bay's offensive success last season with Marshall Newhouse replacing venerable Chad Clifton at left tackle points to a larger league trend.

There are 11 days remaining until the Green Bay Packers kick off training camp.

Every day until the start of camp on July 26, we'll be giving you one juicy nugget to whet your appetite for the return of football. We'd give you more but the CBA forbids two-a-days. Sorry.

Left tackle: Overrated?

Entering this season, 19 of the NFL's projected 32 left tackles were selected in the first round.

Then there's Marshall Newhouse, who was selected with a free-agent compensatory selection at the tail end of the fifth round in 2010.

"I see your point and I understand your point, but really, for me, I could care less if they're first round or a free agent," offensive line coach James Campen said.

With such modest roots, the Packers didn't miss a beat. He made 11 of his 13 starts at what supposedly is the all-important left tackle spot. When Chad Clifton started and got the bulk of the playing time, the Packers averaged 37.0 points. When Newhouse started or got the bulk of the playing time in relief, the Packers averaged 34.3 points.

Those numbers are a thumb in the eye of long-held NFL logic that a dominant left tackle is a vital building block for an offense.

Clearly, most teams consider left tackle a premium position, with 35 going in the first round of the last 10 drafts. The game, however, has changed. Or, at least it's changed for teams with the luxury of a quarterback who's as good mentally as he is physically.

It's all about the quarterback making quick decisions and unloading the ball quickly. Aaron Rodgers, with his quick release and what seems like a sixth sense in feeling pressure, has the ability to mitigate protection breakdowns from any of his linemen.

Statistically, Newhouse struggled, with eight sacks and 54 pressures allowed, according to ProFootballFocus.com. However, with great feet and intelligence, he's got the tools to make a big leap forward this season.

"I think for any player, you get a chance to play and see the mistakes you made and then correct them, go on from every week thereafter," Campen said. "He saw an awful lot of good rushers, and now he's got a library against those rushers and that's going to help him. It's always good to get game experience and game tape and be able to make the corrections and see the good things that you do and enhance those moving forward."

Would it be nice if Newhouse became a top-tier left tackle? Of course, and he'll be better this season, not just through experience but because he'll get to focus on left tackle this summer after bouncing around from tackle to guard, left side to right side, throughout training camp and the early part of last season.

However, as the Packers showed last year, you don't need an All-Pro or former first-round pick at left tackle. A fifth-round pick with a potential Hall of Fame quarterback can lead an offense to record-setting production.


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.


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